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March 28 2015

Earliest humans had diverse range of body types, just as we do today


One of the dominant theories of our evolution is that our genus, Homo, evolved from small-bodied early humans to become the taller, heavier and longer legged Homo erectus that was able to migrate beyond Africa and colonise Eurasia.

While we know that small-bodied Homo erectus – averaging less than five foot (152cm) and under 50kg – were living in Georgia in southern Europe by 1.77 million years ago, the timing and geographic origin of the larger body size that we associate with modern humans has, until now, remained unresolved.

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March 28 2015

Neolithic culture may have kept most men from mating


Studying the varying genetic diversity of different population groups is one method for piecing together the migration history of our species. Many analyses find a bottleneck in non-African populations dating back to around 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. This coincides neatly with the current estimate of the first wave of anatomically modern humans out of Africa. When humans first migrated out of Africa, they created a genetic bottleneck. Because a minority of people migrated, they took a minority of total human genetic diversity with them to the new colonies in Europe and Oceania.

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March 28 2015

Poisons, plants and Palaeolithic hunters


Dozens of common plants are toxic. Archaeologists have long suspected that our Palaeolithic ancestors used plant poisons to make their hunting weapons more lethal.

Now Dr Valentina Borgia has teamed up with a forensic chemist to develop a technique for detecting residues of deadly substances on archaeological objects.

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March 28 2015

A Hallucinogenic Tea Time for Some Brazilian Prisoners


As the night sky enveloped this outpost in Brazil’s Amazon basin, the ceremony at the open-air temple began simply enough.

Dozens of adults and children, all clad in white, stood in a line. A holy man handed each a cup of ayahuasca, a muddy-looking hallucinogenic brew. They gulped it down; some vomited. Hymns were sung. More ayahuasca was consumed. By midnight, the congregants seemed strangely energized. Then the dancing began.

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March 28 2015

Scientists edge closer to creating rehydrating beer that prevents hangovers


Scientists in Australia are looking to create beer that rehydrates you as you drink – stopping hangovers (or making them far less severe).

Researchers at the Griffith University Menzies Health Institute in Queensland are trying to develop the beer that rehydrates you, but that actually tastes the same as normal beer.

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March 28 2015

High-Fat Diet May Alter Behavior And Brain: Gut Bacteria May Increase Anxiety, Impaired Memory


So often we hear about the negative effects of a high-fat diet: The more fatty foods we eat, the more we put ourselves at risk for diseases, such as obesity and heart disease. But do high-fat foods threaten our psyche, too?

A study recently published in the journal Biological Psychiatry hypothesized a high-fat diet produces changes in health and behavior (partly) by altering a person’s gut microbiota. Prior research suggests “alterations in the microbiome may underlie the host’s susceptibility to illness, including neuropsychiatric impairment” — and present researchers decided to put this theory to the test.

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March 28 2015

Mediterranean Diet is Healthy, Pollutes Less


The Mediterranean diet, a menu traditionally eaten in Spain, leaves less of a carbon footprint than that of the U.S. or the United Kingdom, according to a recent study.

The consequences of climate change range from species extinction to sea-level increases and the spread of diseases. For this reason, researchers have been struggling for years to alleviate its effects, even limiting the pollution caused by food consumption.


Related: Fit middle-aged men 'at lower risk for some cancers'

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March 28 2015

Agricultural waste could be used as biofuel


Straw-powered cars could be a thing of the future thanks to new research. A new study pinpoints five strains of yeast capable of turning agricultural by-products, such as straw, sawdust and corncobs, into bioethanol -- a well-known alcohol-based biofuel.

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March 28 2015

Water 'could warm a million homes in England'


A million properties across England could in future be heated by water from rivers, canals and the sea, the government says.

The Department for Energy calculates this is the potential of a technology known as the water source heat pump.

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March 28 2015

'Ice vault' idea to keep climate's time capsule intact


Imagine you are Sherlock Holmes bent on solving a mystery but the evidence is starting to crumble and eventually you will be left with worthless dust.

This is the worry which haunts ice scientists delving into Earth's threatened glaciers.

Deep inside them, the slumbering ice slabs hold information about Earth's climate past, and pointers for the future.

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March 28 2015

Critters found in Antarctic ice show how tenacious life is


Deep below the ice, far from the playful penguins and other animals that bring tourists to Antarctica, is a cold and barren world that by all indications should be completely void of life.

But recently, scientists researching melting ice watched a half-foot-long (15-centimeter) fish swim by. Not long after that, they saw shrimp-like creatures.

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March 28 2015

Giant pandas' secret social life revealed


Everyone needs friends. Even giant pandas. It turns out that they are more sociable than we thought, hanging out together for weeks at a time.

We know very little about wild pandas because they are so rare and live in almost impenetrable forest. But in 2010 and 2011, Vanessa Hull of Michigan State University and her colleagues were given permission to attach GPS tracking collars to five pandas in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China.

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March 28 2015

Bats obey 'traffic rules' when trawling for food


Foraging bats obey their own set of 'traffic rules', chasing, turning and avoiding collisions at high speed, new research from the University of Bristol, UK has found.

Dr Marc Holderied of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences studied pairs of Daubenton's bats (Myotis daubentonii) foraging low over water for stranded insects at a site near the village of Barrow Gurney in Somerset, UK.

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March 28 2015

Granddaddy of All Lobsters, Butterflies, Spiders Found


A marine creature that lived 508 million years ago and gave rise to today’s butterflies, spiders and lobsters has been identified and virtually recreated.

The new species, Yawunik kootenayi, lived more than 250 million years before the first dinosaurs. It is described in the latest issue of the journal Paleontology.

“This creature is expanding our perspective on the anatomy and predatory habits of the first arthropods, the group to which spiders and lobsters belong,”.

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March 27 2015

The father of all humans lived 239,000 years ago


By sequencing the genomes of 2,636 Icelanders — the largest set ever obtained from a single population — researchers were able to identify that genetic mutations play a role in everything from Alzheimer’s disease to liver disease. The Icelandic data also suggest that humanity’s most recent common male ancestor, the "father" of us all, would have lived between 174,000 and 321,000 years ago.

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March 27 2015

Richard III Gets Burial Fit for a King


Richard III, the last English king to die in battle 530 years ago, was finally laid to rest on Thursday in a solemn ceremony in Leicester Cathedral, a few steps from the car park where his twisted skeleton was found in 2012.

"Today we recognize a king who lived through turbulent times and whose Christian faith sustained him in life and death," Queen Elizabeth II said in a message written for the service.


Related: Richard III Reburial: Is England Honoring a Murderer?

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March 27 2015

Richard III DNA tests uncover evidence of further royal scandal


When scientists revealed last year that an adulterous affair had apparently broken the male line in Richard III’s family tree, they vowed to investigate further.

But rather than clear up the mystery, their latest genetic tests have uncovered evidence of another royal sex scandal. This time, the indiscretion could potentially undermine the legitimacy of the entire House of Plantagenet.

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